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Altiscale - Ex-Yahoo! CTO takes on the challenge to build an optimized big-data processor ‘Hadoop-as-a-Service’ company

Ashish Aggarwal
30th Aug 2013
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Raymie Stata is a visionary technologist who has contributed in multiple ways to the technology world, via development of Hadoop within Yahoo! and played a key role in spinning that project in its current form. Over the last few years, Hadoop has changed the way in which companies in various industries consume Big Data to generate insights and use those insights to make business decisions in almost real time.

Raymie had tasted the entrepreneurial success after Yahoo! acquired his first company, Stata Labs, in 2004 for superior desktop search technology. Raymie played various roles within Yahoo! over the next 7 years and finally decided to start Altiscale.

Raymie is a serial entrepreneur and it is evident in the way he has created the company. Raymie hired a world-class team that is spanned across the US and India from his own network.

YourStory catches up with Raymie and his team in the US and India. Below are some of the interesting excerpts from our conversation.


Altiscale

What does Altiscale do and how is it different from existing companies like Cloudera and Hortonworks?

Altiscale is “Infrastructure-As-a-Service for big data processing”. For instance, Amazon is excellent at hosting services and providing infrastructure for running your business. However, that hosting service is not optimized for providing Hadoop-style big data processing infrastructure. Altiscale is “IaaS optimized for big data processing”.

Many commercial uses of Hadoop today are to augment internally facing enterprise data warehouses, and companies like Cloudera and Hortonworks are focused on developing solutions for that market. We believe that big innovation and big transformation will happen when companies will get access to data born outside of firewall, bring that data in-house and use that data to drive optimal business outcome.

So whether it is a transportation company that has all of the vehicles fitted with GPS devices or it is a healthcare company with access to all healthcare data of people, there are many interesting ways of combining the different data sets to make intelligent business decisions. In order to process these large data sets in real time, they need infrastructure similar to what big Internet companies have access to and that’s what we are building.

We want to help people transform their businesses and industries by allowing them to focus on innovation in using the data vs. focusing on running the infrastructure.

Raymie Stata
Raymie Stata

Who are your potential customers? Do you limit your customer based on the size of the company?

Our potential customers include companies that want to use Hadoop without the up-front capital expenditure of building out their own clusters and without the headaches of running such a complex and temperamental system.

Size of a company is not directly correlated with the size of its Hadoop cluster. If one looks at true distribution of Hadoop usage, it is generally by node count. If you have 100 nodes in your Hadoop cluster, you have got 80% of the market covered and by the time you are at 500 nodes, you have got 95% of the market covered. So Altiscale can actually service a whole breadth of businesses.

How did your previous experience as an entrepreneur and an executive at Yahoo! help you in starting the company?

I think it helped me in making less mistakes and going down an unfortunate path. I think access to people like Jerry and others definitely help. I was able to bounce my ideas and get buy in from many key people at an early stage, and some of them are my current investors.

The network that I have built over the past few years helped me in hiring an amazing team, both in the US and India. For instance, I have worked with Ellen (VP, Business Operations), Thiru and Krishna (key people in India) in my previous company and I enjoy working with them since all of us like to solve hard problems.

What is the current challenge that you are facing?

Well, I feel that we are a young company and our biggest mistakes and challenges are yet to come. An ongoing challenge that I think for any company in the high tech world is hiring. There are so many opportunities to use technologies to better the world and not enough engineers to realize that potential. It’s an ongoing challenge that everybody faces and we are no exception. We were fortunate and we were able to manage that successfully. But it’s still hard. So hiring is and continues to be the biggest challenge.

We have a very high bar of expectations and we want to bring in some of the best minds to tackle some of the hardest problems in the tech world.

What are your plans for expansion in the US and India?

We are first going after the US market, since we are based out of here. It takes time since we have to build the entire infrastructure like buying the servers and creating the datacenter.

Our plans for India are to setup a development center and attract some of the best minds in the country to come work for Altiscale and create next generation Hadoop-as-a-Service company.

Altiscale has a partnership with IIT Madras Research Park. What is the primary reason for that?

We have lot of experience in building engineering teams in India, since we understand the importance of amazing technical talent that India has to offer. Our first 2 hires were Thiru and Krishna and now we have space in the IIT Madras Research Park.

The primary reason to partner with IIT Madras is to use the expertise of Professors who have interest in big data. We have long history with IIT Madras. It is part of the core strategy for Altiscale to have a strong India development team, which is part of the core engineering team.

To understand the India vision of Altiscale, YourStory spoke with Thiru, one of the key employees of Altiscale in Chennai.


Thiru & KK

Why did you choose to work with Raymie in Altiscale?Thiru: I have worked with Raymie for past many years at Stata Labs and we worked together on similar projects during our time in Yahoo! Both of us like to solve real hard technical problems and I enjoy working with Raymie. As a result, I decided to make the move from Yahoo! to Altiscale.

What is your vision for the India center?

Thiru: The engineering team in India has equal partnership in writing the code and we maintain a high level of recruitment bar for hiring. We don’t operate in India for the cost advantage, but primarily to tap into amazing technical talent that India has to offer.

Raymie is building a company with a difference and offering “Hadoop-as-a-Service optimized for big data processing”. If you want to work for a company that has a technical team building great product, apply here.

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